BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The manager of a Birmingham grocery store has pleaded guilty to stealing over $4.6 million in SNAP funds through wire and tax fraud.
Omar Motley, 42, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of tax fraud and one count of wire fraud, according to U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona’s office. As part of his plea deal, Motley will be required to pay over $847,000 to the IRS and over $3.8 million to the USDA, which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Motley was the manager of the Big B Food Mart on 24th Street North in Birmingham, which was authorized to accept SNAP food stamp benefits. SNAP benefits are provided to qualified recipients by the USDA on an electronic benefit transfer card (EBT), which is similar to a debit card.
“Motley pleaded guilty to unlawfully redeeming EBT SNAP benefits for cash and ineligible items between November 2014 through March 2017,” a release from Escalona’s office stated. “During this time, SNAP benefits redeemed at Big B Food Mart were 52 times greater than similarly sized stores in the area. Motley’s manipulation of the SNAP program led to him withdrawing approximately $3.7 million of cash from the Big B Food Mart’s bank account.”
Prosecutors stated that Motley significantly overstated the amount of Big B Food Mart’s cost of goods sold on his tax returns, resulting in a “large deduction in the amount of his personal income tax liability.”
“The money allocated by Congress for the SNAP program funds critical USDA efforts to help families in need,” Escalona stated in the release. “I commend the efforts of our federal partners who worked to ensure that these public funds are used for their intended purposes.”
Motley will be sentenced Nov. 8. The maximum penalty for tax fraud is three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.